Broken For You: The Tale of the Pie Caken

While my brother and his family were here staying with us last week, several things were less than perfect.

Our Princess succumbed to the upper respiratory crud for two days.

Thirty minutes into our outdoor viewing of “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” it started drizzling, and we shut it down. (But it was really, really cool while it lasted!)

The cake fell.

Miss Sophie got overexcited and barked and was quite upset when folks ran through the house.  Which, with a houseful of 10 and unders, was bound to happen.  A lot.

The blueberry custard came out a little soupy.

It rained.

And it rained some more.

None of which I had any control over.

In every single case, it was what it was.

And–

we dealt with it.  It was all about our attitudes.

And thankfully, when the tears (okay, my tears) threatened to fall over the cake AND pie messes, my brother had me laughing over the whole “pie-caken” idea–the dessert version of the turducken I suppose.

I don’t know what I’d do without that crazy, belly filling laughter.

It saves me.

Our Princess and I had a few minutes before she had to be at dance the other day, so we stopped by our favorite used bookstore.   As I walked down the shelves, remembering how I used to do the same thing all those years I worked in the library, a title caught my eye.

“Broken for You.”

I have no idea what the book is about, nor will I likely look it up anytime soon.  (Okay, just kidding, I just did.)

But those words.  They have been zigzagging back and forth in my mind all evening.

Broken.

For You.

For me.

For us.

This life is full of brokenness.  Children are going to get sick, and we can’t control that.  (If you’ve figured out how, PLEASE let me know.  Three different viruses in less than three weeks’ time–I’m a little over it.)  Cakes, despite our best efforts, are sometimes going to fall.  All it takes is a child taking a misstep on the stairs or one happily hopping through the kitchen or just a lousy coincidence.  Soupy pies?  Well Mama’s not here to tell me why that happened, but you better know one day she and I are going to talk about the vagueness of that recipe!

I don’t really think that the Universe is out to get me (despite what I say sometimes) nor do I think things are broken on purpose–sometimes they just happen.  But if I can look at the brokenness as an opportunity to share laughter (thanks Bubba) or to slow down or to be thankful for what did go right…..

perhaps the cracks are how the light of good thoughts gets through.   If I can look at it as being broken for me to work on my response, then there is a redemptive quality to so many things we are facing (I get it, not all things)–including a fallen poundcake.

I mean, we get better at something by practicing, right?  (I sure hope so–at least that’s what I’ve been telling my reticent mathematicians.)

So how can we get really good at being thankful,

at finding light in the darkness,

at laughing despite the hard times,

at choosing the right attitude…..

if we don’t get any practice, if everything always goes as planned?

Perhaps that’s what purpose fallen cakes and fevers and soupy blueberry custards can serve–

broken for me–

so I can work on not letting it all get to me.

In this life, we can let things break us, or–

maybe–

we can see it as being broken for us to practice our “attitude adjusting” and show what we’re made of.

I can’t say that I won’t get a little *ahem* upset the next time my pound cake falls (oh me), but I will remember the pie caken and find something to smile about in the midst of the frustration.

It’s a start.

Wishing you all the ability to laugh when things fall apart.  Or just fall.

Love to all.

 

My poor fallen sour cream pound cake.  Some folks around here say they prefer them fallen--they might be telling a tale, but I'm okay with that.

My poor fallen sour cream pound cake. Some folks around here say they prefer them fallen–they might be telling a tale, but I’ll take it.

 

the little boy who’s all grown up

the little guy who taught me all about little guys

is no longer little

the one who brought cars and trucks into our toybox

(I already had the tractors)

now drives one of his own

filled with his precious family

 

the one who took my hand as we walked and talked

down the old road near the homeplace

now takes my heart and listens

and shares his words of wisdom

that sound more and more

like those of our Daddy

 

the one who held my firstborn when he was still so young

now watches as that grown baby girl holds his baby boy

and the two of them laugh together

and take selfies and

the little boy who’s all grown up

and I

look on

 

when did the baby boy

become one of my best friends,

when did he stop keeping me up late with

all the silliness

just to see my eyes droop and hear me talk nonsense

and become the man who sits and shares stories

and joys and worries and all the life thoughts

until the wee hours of the morning?

 

this person who will always be my baby,

yet who is taller and stronger and perhaps even wiser than I

(though there’s no need to tell him that right now)

and who, as we both tried to do something yesterday,

when I said,

“sorry, just trying to fix it, that’s what I do”

replied,

“yeah, me too”

and in that moment

I saw how much more alike we are becoming

than we’ve ever been before

 

and I give thanks

for I need his strength

and laughter

and I love that he still wears the worn out blue jeans

and t-shirts

and goes barefooted in the middle of winter

and chases the children around

 

last night he packed his Matchbox cars and children

into his big car and prepared to head back home

the little boy who once lived down the hall

now lives way too far away

 

as I said “goodbye” and wept

the tears fell unapologetically

for I know that life, it’s too short

and I know that, despite everything,

we all need to be known well

and loved anyway

 

and that baby boy, the one with the jet black hair

and big green eyes

who changed our world

when he came home to a house full of sisters,

he knows my faults and my flaws and

what the inside of my microwave looks like

and how quirky I can be

and for whatever reason, he says my name and he loves me

 

the little guy who isn’t so little anymore

he’s grown into the space he owns inside my heart,

the space he’s owned since the first time he wrapped his fingers around mine

and today it feels a little empty

as does the house

as the laughter and stories we shared echo in my heart and mind

 

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Calling it a Night–the Game Version

Last night I was up late.

Oh yeah, I know there’s many nights that I stay up late writing and don’t publish my stories until after midnight and maybe get to bed by 1.

But last night?  I published my story at 3:12 a.m.

And fell asleep three minutes later, as soon as my head hit the pillow.

It’s like this when my baby brother is around.  We stay up late.  Later and later each night.  And last night was his last night here this visit, so we went for the record.

He went upstairs to bed after 2:30 a.m.  I could have gone straight to bed then, but as Bubba was standing there about to head up the stairs, it hit me what a precious time this is–this time being with him in the late night quiet– and the letter to my children starting writing itself and wouldn’t go away.  I wanted and needed to put it in words.

This keeping each other up late goes way back.  When I had moved back home with my oldest when she was quite small and Bubba came home from college, he would come in some nights and sit on the foot of my bed.  Yes, I was in bed.  Ready for sleep.  And that boy would sit there talking and engaging me in conversation until I started talking foolishness and he felt like his goal was achieved.  One night in particular was fifteen years ago.  My eyes were drooping and I could not keep them open.  He asked me a question and I remember replying something like, “God…..Jesus…..Hot dogs…..Elephants.”  The last thing I heard as I passed out was the sound of my brother laughing triumphantly as he headed down the hallway to his room.  He had won.

This visit we’ve both held our own.  1:30 a.m.  12:30 a.m.  2 a.m.  And then last night.  After 2:30.  At one point I thought I had him.  His eyes were glazed and they almost drooped.  I wasn’t sure he was really listening, and then I’ll be dog if he didn’t answer my question.  Coherently.

A little while later we were solving the world’s problems and he was sharing his thoughts.  I felt myself losing my grip.  I shook my head and continued to listen.  Then I had a thought to share.  And in the middle of it…..those elephants and hot dogs started floating around in my mind.  I totally lost my train of thought.  I don’t know if he noticed, but I stumbled for a second during which I had no idea what we were talking about–and then luckily I got back on track.

That was close.  He almost won.

In the end I think we were both winners.  We’ve had some hard conversations and some mirthful moments.  I haven’t laughed this hard in quite a while nor have I challenged myself to think about some of the things we’ve discussed in a long, long time.  It’s been really good.  And powerful.  And…..precious.

So tonight I’m thankful for sleep-deprived nights in the company of someone who knows me better than most folks who know me do.  I give thanks for his family’s safe journey down to see us, for the time that we worked to take care of business and for the times that we kicked back and just enjoyed being together.  Most importantly I give thanks for the gift of family.  For without them, none of the rest of what I have or am would matter one bit.

And I guess tonight my baby brother wins.  As he stays up driving all night to get his family safely back home, I’m calling it a night early and heading to bed.  No talking goofy, no droopy eyes, I say “uncle” and bow to the champion.  This time.  You win tonight, Bubba.

Wishing you all someone to stay up and have heart to hearts with.

Love and a GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP to all.

 

 

The Gift of Each Other

For my three children, and for anyone else who has a mind to read it.

Dear Ones,
You will never regret time you spend with each other, listening to each other’s stories, thoughts, dreams, plans, fears, and corny jokes. You will never tire of watching the expressions on each other’s faces, searching for signs of mirth or sadness. You will always be glad that you chose time together over just about everything else in the world. And no matter how tired you get, you won’t ever be sorry you missed an hour or two (or five) of sleep so you could stay up laughing and remembering and sharing the journey.

One day when I am gone I hope that you too will stay up with each other talking and laughing and reminiscing. I hope that I will have helped you have the kind of life that remembering will bring you more laughter than tears and will often find you together. Make time for that. For each other. And whatever stories you are carrying. Make room in your mind and heart and listen to every single one. And love on each other.

Each other is the greatest gift I can ever leave you. I promise you it’s worth more than all the gold in the world.

Love each other. Laugh a lot. Hold each other when you cry.

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Love,
Your Mama who just stayed up really quite late doing all of these things with her not so much anymore yet always baby brother and who might be quite cranky tomorrow but will be carrying a song of joy and thankfulness in her heart because of the love and laughter and the gift of each other

Love to all.

A Literary Dish

My brother Bubba is in town.  This evening after a great time over at Blackberry Flats with Mess Cat and Leroy (who cooked a fantastic meal by the way), he and I sat down to go through some boxes that have been waiting for him to look through and make decisions about.

Of Mama and Daddy’s stuff.

Oh y’all.

We laughed over stories of old teachers.  We were quiet as we read through books from our childhood.  We unwrapped mugs and dishes and things that Mess Cat had tenderly wrapped and boxed months ago.  Bubba and I read inscriptions and discovered that the old dictionary we grew up with was given to Daddy when he was sixteen years old.  Good stuff, y’all.  Really good.

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Halfway through a box, I handed this book to Bubba to decide if he wanted it.  I went back to digging in the box.  Then I heard the unmistakable sound of Bubba getting tickled about something.  That right there.  You can’t help but join in.  Mirth and joy and all kinds of delightful.  All mixed together.

I looked over my glasses at him.  Really?  What book was he looking at?  Surely not the one I’d just handed him.  I mean, I don’t know much about the author, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t a comedy.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

He laughed some more.  Then he told me he was pretty sure the book was something of a gag gift from Daddy to Mama.  A glance inside the front cover showed it once belonged to a Jack Reeves and that it was 50 cents in a used book sale.  Yep.  Sounds about right.

Bubba told me the story of how one night Mama made sausage rice for supper.  She put a plate of it in front of Daddy and said, “It’s not much, but we’ll call it a meal.”  To which Daddy replied, “Zola?”

Ba dum bump.

After that whenever Mama made sausage rice she called it “Zola.”  And a new dish was born and named.

We are pretty sure that no one ever read the book, but if anyone would have, it would have been my Daddy.  He was an eclectic reader and a lover of words and thoughts.

I love this story, and I love having people to share these stories with.  I am tickled to hear this family lore that happened after I had moved out of the house.  What a gift that my brother was there to see it unfold, remembered it, and shared it with me tonight.  He’s even pretty sure he found the book at the Old Book Sale and showed it to Daddy, who of course had to get it for Mama.

As for the book, it will go on my classics shelf.  Because the story behind it is definitely classic Mama and Daddy.  And now I have a new memory to recall when I see it–the laughter of this night with my brother, the one in which we took on a task that could have been more painful than it was but ended up in us rolling with fits of laughter.

And as if all that weren’t enough, now I am craving me some Zola.

Wishing you all a good story that brings a smile to your face.

Love to all.

 

**Credit and many thanks to Bubba for not only the story but also the title of this post.  🙂

 

Making Facebook Work for Me (but not that video)

When I talked with my Daddy three years ago about Facebook and the idea of me signing up, he shared his words of wisdom:  “As long as you make it work for you, and you don’t work for it, I think it could be all right.”

I’ve tried.  There have been times, I will admit, when I have let it lead me astray from what I should be doing.  But most of the time, I handle it pretty well.  And I am thankful for it.

We have friends all over the world we are able to keep up with, watch their children grow, and celebrate milestones with because of Facebook.

I saw a picture of my writer friend with the “hot off the presses” first copies of her latest book, all the way across the country from me. That was awesome.

I keep up with my nephews who are growing up way too fast further up the East Coast.  The oldest wants this for this birthday.  An “heirloom quality” stuffed dragon for $13000.00.   Only it’s not Amazon Prime eligible, so that’s a no.  Among other reasons.  Ahem.  My point is that I found out he wanted this because of Facebook.  And my brother and I had lots of laughs over this one.  (The reviews alone are worth clicking over and checking it out.) I’m thankful for staying connected.

I also am inspired by thoughts shared by Bob Goff, Frederick Buechner, Matthew Paul Turner, Hugh Hollowell, David LaMotte, and Thom Shuman, among many others.  If you love beautiful poetry, you should follow Mr. Shuman–what a gift he has.  I love the art and thoughts shared by Brian Andreas of StoryPeople.  He never fails to make me laugh or cry each day–and sometimes it’s both.

There are funny memes and great pictures to share with others on Facebook.  I can share my stories and special moments there.  Friends share their favorite blog posts and very often, their own, which I look forward to catching up on in the next week or so.  *sigh*  So much to read, so little time.

If it weren’t for Facebook, I might never have heard of ABAN or Love Wins or Love 146 or Trade as One.  I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the great things they are doing.  Places like Bare Bulb Coffee and The Book Exchange in Marietta let folks know about the special events they have going on through Facebook.  Love it.  And I love the sharing of ideas among the different communities–ones for homeschool parents and another for spouses of military members and yet another for posting things to sell.  You name it, and more than likely there’s a group page on Facebook for it.

A wealth of information, right?

I mean, without Facebook, I wouldn’t have seen one of the most precious things ever–little Ella Mae singing one of my favorite songs ever–the American Trilogy by Elvis.  Y’all it’s worth the five minutes to watch.  She and I have so much in common.  We both love Elvis, belt out that song when we hear it, and adore our Daddies.  (She’s a far better singer though.)

Oh my land.  How adorable is that?

It’s almost enough to make me overlook the game requests I get.  (I just don’t have time y’all, and besides, I have an addictive personality–I just cannot get started playing one of those games.  I really wouldn’t get anything at all done then.  So no offense, but yeah.  No thank you.)    And the folks who vaguebook.  You know, mention something but not with specifics, leaving the rest of us to wonder, “Huh?”  I won’t say I’ve never done it, but I will apologize for the times I have.  I know.  I’m sorry.

However, there is one thing that I just cannot take anymore from Facebook.  The video that has been shared over and over and over.  I never watched it before because, well, in the words of Bubba, my wise brother, “It’s never that serious.”

But tonight I did.  I decided if I’m going to write about it, I’d best do my research.  And well, yeah.  There’s four minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

*sigh*

Fitted sheets were NOT made to be folded, my friends.  Don’t stress yourself out over it.  Just wad it up and tuck it in the back of your linen closet or a drawer, or take it and the top sheet and stuff them in the matching pillowcase until you need them. I think I saw that one on Pinterest.

Ahhhh, Pinterest.  ❤

But that’s a story for another night.

Wishing you things that work for you rather than the other way around, including those blasted fitted sheets.  (And if you’re one that can fold them neatly–hey, I’m impressed.)

Love to all.

 

Don’t Leave Anyone Out

These last few days of summer have been filled with some of the best things in life, but some of the best fun has been playing and having adventures with cousins.  As can happen when you mix children from a few families, you often have to remind the group, as Mama always told us when we were going to see our cousins at Granny’s house, “Don’t leave anyone out.”

This afternoon the crew were all over at Blackberry Flats.  I had gone out to give another round of “encouragement” to all the young’uns about playing together well and fairly.  And yeah, “Don’t leave anyone out.”  Our Princess, the oldest in the crew, stood on Mama’s front porch and pitched in her two cents, “Yeah, we can’t do that.  Because if Maemae were here she’d say, ‘Y’all don’t leave anybody out.  I don’t lak (like) that.'” (Sometimes her accent is thicker than others.) She continued, “It’s like when you are having a party and a poor child comes to your door and you invite them in and have them sit by the fire and give them food and turn it into their party.  That’s how we should do.”

Not that we’ve ever had that happen, but yeah, just like that.  I stood amazed and somewhat slack-jawed.

Matthew 25:35, Princess version.  Invite a stranger in and make the party all about them. I like it.

**Today’s Thirty Second Tuesday is brought to you by a challenge from my baby brother Bubba.  He’s been in town, and we were talking this evening about writing.  He teased me about what I write, saying, “I don’t know. After thirty seconds I’m just skimming.  Thirty seconds is all I can give you.”  Which was followed by a suggestion that maybe I could try to write something that could be read in 30 seconds or less.  I don’t know about that, but Bubba, here’s my best shot.  Hope it met the challenge.  Love you bro.